MINUTES OF THE STATE ETHICS COMMISSION MEETING

March 19, 2010

One Ashburton Place, Room 619

Boston, MA 02108

PUBLIC SESSION

 

MEETING CONVENED

Chairman Charles B. Swartwood called the meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. Also in attendance were Commissioners David L. Veator, Patrick J. King and Paula F. Mangum. Commissioner Jeanne M. Kempthorne was absent.

 

APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

On the motion of Commissioner King, seconded by Commissioner Mangum, the Commission voted 4-0, to waive the reading and approve the public and executive session minutes of the February 19, 2010 and March 3, 2010 meetings.

 

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR'S REPORT

Budget

Executive Director Karen L. Nober reported that she and Budget Director Mary Jane Grace attended the Joint Ways and Means Committee budget hearing on March 1, 2010 in Sturbridge. Ms. Nober testified on behalf of the Commission. Ms. Nober expressed the Commission's appreciation for receiving level-funding in House 2 and also requested that the Joint Committee consider providing the Commission with funding for an additional position in the Public Education Division.

 

Ethics Reform Implementation

Ms. Nober stated that she is scheduled to meet with officials from the Massachusetts Municipal Association and various municipalities to discuss their concerns regarding the mandatory conflict of interest law education and training requirements.

Ms. Nober reported that the Implementation Procedures for the mandatory education and training requirements have been updated to include additional exemptions. Employees who can be exempted from requirements are now exempt from both the summary of the law requirement andthe online training requirement. Also, individual vendors or contractors who provide one day or less of service per calendar year are now exempt from the requirements. Additional exemptions have also been authorized for employees with limited fluency in English, special needs, and those who have taken a leave of absence, provided the employer is unable to assist them in complying.

Ms. Nober noted that all elected state and county officials have been sent reminders regarding their obligation to comply with the mandatory training requirements.

 

Statement of Financial Interests

Ms. Nober stated that the SFI Instructions and Form have been revised with the assistance of Legal Division Senior Staff Counsel Lauren Duca and SFI Financial Analyst David Mesquita. Mr. Mesquita will update the electronic version of the SFI Instructions and Form. Ms. Nober said that she expects that the SFI Instructions and Form will be mailed to manual filers on Friday, March 26, 2010 and that e-mail notifications will be sent to electronic filers at the same time.

 

Transparency Issues

Ms. Nober reported that the agenda for the March 19, 2010 Commission meeting had been posted on the Commission's website. The ratified meeting minutes from the public session of the February 19, 2010 meeting will be posted on the Commission website next week.

 

Committee Meetings

Ms. Nober reported that the first Enforcement Committee was held last month. The Committee discussed a process to fast-track matters at the adjudicatory stage. The Petitioner would have the opportunity to opt-in to the fast-track process for cases that meet certain criteria. The Respondent would then have the option to opt-out of the fast-track. Ms. Nober stated that the fast-track proposal, once more fully fleshed out, will be brought to the full Commission for discussion. The Committee also discussed conducting panel discussions one or two times a year to provide practical advice for anyone who practices before the Commission.

 

Public Education and Communication Division

Ms. Nober stated that a report on the activities of the Public Education and Communications Division for February 2010 was included in the packet. Ms. Nober reported that the Commission's Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2009 was issued on March 18, 2010. She stated that she anticipates that the Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report will be issued in September 2010.

 

Future Meetings

Ms. Nober stated that future Commission meetings have been scheduled for Friday, April 16, 2010, Friday, May 21, 2010 and Friday, June 18, 2010. The meetings will begin at 9:00 a.m.

 

LEGAL DIVISION MATTERS

Draft Regulations

General Counsel Deirdre Roney presented revised draft regulations to the Commission for review and comment. Chairman Swartwood commended Ms. Roney for drafting the regulations. A revised draft incorporating Commission comments and suggestions will be posted on the Commission's website. Drafts of the new regulations will be sent to various organizations and individuals who will be affected by the regulations. The Commission will solicit comments from the public regarding the proposed draft regulations. The formal process of adopting the regulations will begin in May or June.

 

Census Employment

930 CMR 6.18 Census Employment: Following presentation by Ms. Roney of a draft regulation allowing public employees to also work for the federal census, and discussion by the Commission, on the motion of Commissioner King, seconded by Commissioner Veator, the Commission voted 4-0 to approve allowing the Legal Division to give advice consistent with the following draft regulation:

 

  1. Census Employment

  • Purpose. The purpose of this exemption is to allow public employees to hold additional paid positions with the federal census.

  • Exemption. A public employee may hold a paid position with the federal census without violating G.L. c. 268A, sections 4, 11 and 17.

 

Legal Division Metrics

Ms. Roney presented the Legal Division metrics for February 2010. The division handled 52 staff letters and email requests, 287 phone calls, received one walk-in request for advice and nine municipal counsel opinion. There are 18 opinion requests older than 30 days, and there are 42 pending requests for advice.

 

The Commission had no questions.

 

Litigation Update

A report in the packet updated the following litigation matters:

 

John Scott v. Commonwealth: John Scott has appealed the October 8, 2009 Decision and Order to the Superior Court. Scott has yet to file a brief in the case;

 

Lincoln Smith v. Commonwealth: Lincoln Smith has appealed the August 18, 2008 Decision and Order. The Commission filed a brief on February 11, 2010. The hearing previously scheduled for March 8, 2010, has been rescheduled for March 31, 2010;

 

Maureen Brennan v. Commonwealth: Maureen Brennan has appealed the March 3, 2009 Decision and Order. The Commission filed a brief on December 4, 2009. A reply brief was filed December 31, 2009. Oral arguments were held on February 5, 2010. A decision from Judge Cratsley is pending;

 

Maglione v. Adamson & Giannino: Joseph Maglione filed an action for slander against two witnesses in the Commission's adjudicatory matter involving Joseph Maglione. A scheduled deposition of Special Investigator Brian McWilliams by Maglione was postponed while the defendants seek new counsel; and

 

Setters v. Boyd: The Commission received a third party subpoena seeking a complaint file. The Legal Division will move to quash the subpoena.

 

Deliberations

Ms. Roney noted that the Commission would continue deliberations in the following matters during executive session:

 

In Re Theresa Lord Piatelli, Docket No. 07-0013; and

 

In Re Thomas Jefferson and Paul Wormser, Docket No. 09-0008.

 

ENFORCEMENT DIVISION MATTERS

Enforcement Division metrics were in the packet. The Commission had no questions.

 

EXECUTIVE SESSION/DELIBERATIONS

At 10:20 a.m., on the motion of Chairman Swartwood, seconded by Commissioner Veator, the Commission voted 4-0 to enter into executive session to review matters subject to the confidentiality restrictions of G.L. c. 268B, §§ 3 and 4.

 

Chairman Swartwood stated that the Commission would not return to public session following the executive session.

 

VOTE:

Chairman Swartwood        yes

Commissioner Veator        yes

Commissioner King           yes

Commissioner Mangum     yes